Flight surgeon one of outstanding soldiers in PH

“I’M JUST a simple person. Hindi ako sanay sa mga recognitions (I am not used to recognitions).”

This is how Major Jonna Dalida Dalaguit, M.D. describes herself; unassuming and low-key.

The length of her resume, however, is another matter.

With 22 military merit medals, 10 military commendation medals, and numerous letters of military commendations and certificates of appreciations from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and civilian organizations, it is a wonder that these proofs of her service to the country have not gone to her head.

And it doesn’t end there.

Major Dalaguit has been named as one of the “Ten Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS) for 2015” which Rotary Club of Makati Metro and the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. headed.

Born on November 4, 1965, Maj. Dalaguit grew up in the City of Roxas. She took her Doctor of Medicine at the Iloilo Doctors Hospital and her Paediatrics specialization at V. Luna AFP Medical Center.

Even if she comes from a military family, her grandfather being a member of the US Navy, she at first did not want to become a soldier but to be a dancer when she was still a child.

The call was strong however and she joined the Philippine Army.

At the start, she kept this a secret from her parents as they were not supportive of their children going into the service and, being the youngest of four, it became a little bit more difficult for her to ask their permission.

But after seeing that this was what she wanted to do and knowing that their daughter would be a great help to the country, they finally relented and gave their approval.

She met her husband, Dental Officer Major Eleodoro Dalaguit Jr., when she became a part of the 3rd Infantry Division, both their first assignments as members of the Army. Their union bore one son, Kim Ian Dalaguit.

Only flight surgeon in the ranks

Early in her career, Major Dalaguit demonstrated a deep sense of professionalism and has portrayed various roles in her 18 years of service; an accomplished military physician and currently the only Flight Surgeon in the ranks, an educator recognized in the field of medical research, and a counsellor trained in stress management and mental health.

She has not boxed herself within the confines of the hospital and has seen active duty in high alert areas not only locally but internationally as well.

She was deployed in a United Nations peacekeeping mission to the Golan Heights earning her a UN Medal. She has been active in educating rebel returnees and has helped in intensifying barangay health programs especially in teaching children the importance of personal hygiene.

Most importantly, she initiated Project CALL (Call And Live Longer) which aims to give combat operating troops direct 24/7 access to health experts whenever they need advice on health conditions or on the management of casualties during combat operations.

Since 2009, she has been the Executive Officer for the Camp Evangelista Station Hospital.

For Major Jonna Dalaguit, getting recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Philippine Soldiers for 2015 is not just about the trophy or the cash prize.

For her, it is a form of testament to others of how genuine service can be appreciated and that it also brings credibility to her work.

For her, it is not even the greatest recognition that she received.

The simple thank you she gets from the servicemen and women that she served is what she treasures the most.

“One of the most unforgettable experiences I ever had as a soldier was when a mother entrusted her daughter's life to me in a morbid situation, while I was taking care of my dying mother. It was a test of who should I take care first - is it my mother or the daughter of a soldier? How can a soldier concentrate in doing combat operation if her daughter is not being well-taken care of? I had to give up one to care for the other, so I left my mother to take care of the soldier's daughter.”

The Ten Outstanding Philippine Soldiers is an annual award given out by the Rotary Club of Makati Metro and the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. with the purpose of giving recognition to the career contribution of soldiers in the country.

The TOPS conferment ceremony will be held at Metrobank Plaza Auditorium, Makati City, is on September 3, 2015. Richmond Antonio Alfonso

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